I read a complaint on Randy Katz’s Facebook page about a quality journal having a pay wall. In reply, Randy said the following:
Why should quality content be free?
I posted the response below.
Quality content should not be free. Quality content providers should learn that the 21st century needs a completely different subscriber model from the 17th century, let alone the 20th.
When you only had access to a small number of publications, it was easier to decide which few you were going to pay to subscribe to.
Now that we all have access to 100s if not 1,000s of publications, the choice is not so easy. Any whole dollar subscription to each of 1,000s of sources would still be too expensive.
Google and all the ad selling web sites have the technology to make micro-payments to people who agree to host ads on their web sites. They could use this technology for subscribers to web sources. Why couldn’t Google or other site create a “Publisher’s Clearing House” of the web? You would pay one subscription fee to Google, and you would get access to 1,000s of sites. A micro-payment would be taken out of your subscription and paid to the source of whatever articles you actually read.
With this system the subscriber does not have to decide beforehand which publications are likely to have an article that he or she wants to read on any given day, week, month, or year. For a set fee, the reader can decide on the spur of the moment which source to read with the knowledge that the chosen source would get a fair payment.
When you use up your fee in micro-payments you replenish your subscription with some more money.
I am going to keep pushing this idea until someone finally takes up the challenge. I think my last post on this topic was Monetizing Internet Content – Refresher Course. It’s not so much a question of why people can’t think outside the box, but more of a question of why am I the only person who can think outside of this particular box?